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Old 12-01-2008, 01:41 PM   #121
dave6253
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Viola-tor,

Great writing! I really enjoyed the lengthy piece about the auditioning. If you ever need to audition in Phoenix your welcome to crash at my place. My 10 yo daughter is a beginner Celloist and would enjoy watching you practice.

BTW, I think Black Death should hold up nicely to the Phoenix Heat.
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Old 12-01-2008, 01:53 PM   #122
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Originally Posted by dave6253
Viola-tor,

Great writing! I really enjoyed the lengthy piece about the auditioning. If you ever need to audition in Phoenix your welcome to crash at my place. My 10 yo daughter is a beginner Celloist and would enjoy watching you practice.

BTW, I think Black Death should hold up nicely to the Phoenix Heat.
Thanks Dave! I was Principal Viola for the Tucson Symphony last season, but unfortunately it was a temporary appointment and didn't work out for "keeps." I was really diggin' the AZ lifestyle too... I wish I was THERE with my new bike for sure, talk about dual-sport heaven! Next time I'm near you we should def ride! I love AZ, it's beautiful and is a great jumping off point for all kinds of great moto adventures!

Thanks for the offer, I may take you up on it someday! Tell your daughter to keep shredding away! Most of my dearest friends have all been made through music, and many were from my high school and college years.
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Old 12-01-2008, 06:04 PM   #123
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This is really a great RR. Enlightening, humorous, creative. Thanks for taking the time.
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:05 AM   #124
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Domsday
Thoroughly enjoying the RR. am dreaming of getting rid of my gsxr and getting a 990, next year for sure!
Thanks Domsday, stay tuned! I doubt you'll regret the "upgrade" to orange. This bike kicks my butt on a daily basis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chains45
Excellent writing, I think most of us can identify strongly with your emotions and pride at doing something challenging and fun. Steep rocky grades? Capable bike? Nervous rider? been there done that, have the scars to prove it, smile.

Looking forward to more - want to hear the music in the mountains...
Thanks for the encouragement Chains, It's good to know YFF's are enjoying! My bike and I are learning each other better everyday, I sense good things... Music in the mountains? Can-do!


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Originally Posted by Aqualis
This is an amazing report. I have to say ... I'm jealous.
Thank you, I'm jealous too! You know it's a good ride when you enjoy reading about it your own adventure... We'll see where this nutty idea takes me... Cheers!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Motor 1
This is really a great RR. Enlightening, humorous, creative. Thanks for taking the time.
Right on, Motor1, thanks for tuning in! We'll see how long I can keep this up...
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:09 AM   #125
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Wonderful tales of your Midland and El Paso auditions. But you certainly went out of your way to go all the way to Llano for BBQ after the Midland/Odessa audition, only to double back around to El Paso!

BTW, what concerto are you playing in the auditions?

When I was going through auditions at North Texas State or for gigs shortly thereafter, I had several of the movements to Bach's Cello Suites at the ready (available, as I'm sure you know, in sheet music for viola). I usually played my favorite, the Prelude to #1 (now fairly well known thanks to Yo-Yo Ma playing it in the soundtrack for the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World). IMHO they're as beautiful on the viola as they are on the cello, although Yo-Yo Ma's version sounds a lot better than mine!
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:41 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by mistercindy
Wonderful tales of your Midland and El Paso auditions. But you certainly went out of your way to go all the way to Llano for BBQ after the Midland/Odessa audition, only to double back around to El Paso!

BTW, what concerto are you playing in the auditions?

When I was going through auditions at North Texas State or for gigs shortly thereafter, I had several of the movements to Bach's Cello Suites at the ready (available, as I'm sure you know, in sheet music for viola). I usually played my favorite, the Prelude to #1 (now fairly well known thanks to Yo-Yo Ma playing it in the soundtrack for the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World). IMHO they're as beautiful on the viola as they are on the cello, although Yo-Yo Ma's version sounds a lot better than mine!
Heh, you caught me! I left out a couple days of activities that got me over to Llano in the interest of story flow, but yes, it's still far from there to El Paso!

I have a couple concertos that I use, depending on my mood. The problem for me is that I don't really like "the big three" viola concerti (Bartok, Hindemith, & Walton), so I never really feel at home on any of them, but Bartok is my preference if I'm forced to pick one. When it's open to whatever I choose to play the Bloch "1919" Suite which he himself orchestrated (which I got to perform with orchestra in college! ). I think it's a much better and more playable "concerto" than those others, but for some reason it's not "standard." In El Paso they asked for Telemann, which was kinda fun because it was something different.

Yeah, the 1st Cello suite is amazing, one of my favorite works to play because it "falls" so nicely under the fingers. I use the Courante and Sarabande for my PEAK PERFORMANCE!!! concerts and viola demos, and sometimes I bust out the Prelude 'cause everyone recognizes it. If auditions ask for Bach specifically I sometimes use the Prelude and Fugue from the Fifth Suite 'cause it's got great drama with the minor thing going on and the Fugue is flashy (although difficult from an endurance and memorization standpoint).

The Prelude from Suite 1 is being featured in yet another movie coming up, I saw the preview for that new Robert Downy Jr./Jamie Fox movie (can't remember title) about the crazy homeless musican which has it playing big time, cresendoing into full orchestration, pretty cool. It even popped up in the very well done BMW commercial (at 2:54):






I think they did a great job producing that one, it really captures the sport-touring thing, and the music plays an important role in setting the mood. Sigh... I wonder if I'll have the time and inclination to get back into making moto vids... So much to do! Gotta catch up this ride report first...
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:07 PM   #127
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one word....

holymotherofmusicallyinclinedbikerstorydood!!!!!!


that was fantastic


good on ya
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Old 12-03-2008, 12:28 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by LEDSLED
holymotherofmusicallyinclinedbikerstorydood!!!!!!


that was fantastic


good on ya
Thanks dude, but it's not over yet! This is just the conclusion of the first chapter...
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Old 12-03-2008, 01:00 AM   #129
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Alright, let’s blow this taco stand!

I’ve been here before in far west Texas facing east, this summer even! I’m in no particular hurry so I’m gonna avoid that pesky Interstate highway today (Thank Gawd! ). I’ll retrace my steps home from my test run to the Guadalupe Mountains on the BMW earlier this summer by dropping down from I-10 through the Davis Mountains to Hwy 90 which will take me all the way into San Antonio. Hopefully I can make it in a day, but if I have to camp out one more night that’s okay too. I didn’t bring any maps of the area since I *almost* have it memorized, but I snapped a photo of one just in case. Poor-man’s GPS!



I’ve always been a Batman fan, and as a kid I was either Batman, a bat, or some variation of the two for probably six consecutive Halloweens. I’m way excited for the new Batman movie with Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger as the Joker. I’m so glad that they’re back to the “Dark” style instead of the more cartoony-funny way. At a remote Texas gas stop I happen across this Reese’s display which features a contest prize of a MV Augusta F-4 Bat-Cycle...



Holy-Italian-Super-Bike Batman! I waaant that... Ooooo, this gives me plenty of material to day dream about for the next several hundred miles! What kid (at heart) doesn’t want to be a super-hero?? Plus I already have Batman’s viola!

People generally seem to admire motorcycle travelers, at least they act like it. As a rider one quickly gets used to the stares and whispers when entering a room, and more often than not the whispers turn into an interaction where tales of adventure are shared. I call it the Motorcycle Delay Factor, which is one reason that traveling by motorcycle is slower (and more fun!) than by car, no matter how fast the bike is. I think people look up to someone who can live out their dreams because everyone has a little piece of that inside themselves, and motorcyclists are visually "different" so they are obvious magnets for conversation. Folks who have been on their own adventures want to tell you all about them, and people who desperately want to have adventures are hungry to know about yours. Then there're the people who'd never dream of doing something "crazy like that" but somehow they wish you all the best and godspeed anyway. I take particular enjoyment from getting young boys to wave back at me. I like to see their little jaws drop as they yank on mom's hand and I can almost hear them saying "Whoooooa, Motorcycle!" and I chuckle in my helmet 'cause I know exactly how that feels. In fact I myself still do that sometimes when I see a bike! I often get requests from parents to perform maneuvers or rev the engine for the kids. Piloting a space ship and wearing a stormtrooper outfit only helps with the Buzz Lightyear persona (and now I have my own insignia!), so why not have some fun with it, since what boy doesn't want to be an astronaut? I've been told by a number of women that men are just bigger sized boys (who, me???), so I guess they must want to be astronauts too, right? It's fun to see grown men that otherwise probably wouldn't speak to me approach with a big smile and say "What's that? How cool! Where are you from? How long have you been out riding?" I'm not sure about what the women think, if you find out, let me know... Figuring that out seems like a lifelong pursuit! Then there's the whole two-wheeled-brotherhood thing which unites people from around the globe, but that's been well documented elsewhere. Motorcycles bring people together! Awwwwwwww... Yeah, I freely admit it, I like “dressing up” in my super-hero action gear and “flying” to save the day...

Last time I was on this road with the BMW I tried to ride a bit of the gravel service road that parallels it, with limited success. Now I have a better tool still shod with knobby tires (just about worn out!), so I take to the dirt along side the highway, which does admittedly feel weird since cars and trucks are whizzing by at 80 MPH only a few feet away.

It should be obvious by now that I’m a total n00b at this type of riding, but I’m having fun trying and learning. I know that my 990 has “tall” gearing, and so far shifting into 2nd gear has been a rare event since 1st gear will easily get me up to 40 MPH or so, which seems to be plenty fast for my experience level. Here on ADVrider I read about people riding 90 MPH on dirt with their KTM Adventures, but I can’t quite grasp how that’s possible right now, there seem to be too many variables in the terrain that I can’t see fast enough. Maybe I’ll figure it out someday...

This is easy going compared to Sydney Basin in Colorado, but I’m having a blast and even encounter a few challenging sections like this big dip/ravine crossing which I decide to walk across first:





I’m kinda nervous and tired, but I’m able to roll through no problem. Sweet!

A lot of this service road (I’m not sure exactly what to call it) looks like this. You can see how close it is to the highway over on the left.



It’s not continuous, sometimes it dumps you out on the pavement and then a few miles (or yards) down the road it starts up again. I keep looking for signs forbidding me riding this way, but I don’t see any. I stop next to this one to be sure. Fiber Optic cable, interesting...



Occasionally the rocks get bigger and/or looser and there’s a hill to climb, but nothing I can’t handle. This is all MUCH more fun than on my old busted Beemer. I keep having to remind myself that I have a VIOLA on my back through all of this... I must be crazy.



About the time I start wondering if a Highway Patrol or Border Patrol might find my activities of interest a Black & White zips past on the pavement; this area is heavily patrolled. I crest the next hill and see him waiting for me on the gravel and he flashes his lights to tell me that yes, he’s wanting to talk to me. I’m doing nothing wrong as far as I know so I zoom up beside him and do a little rear-wheel skid-stop next to the car.

The officer is nice enough, but is kinda dumbfounded as to what the hell I was doing. I explain that I simply want practice riding on dirt and gravel and proceed to point out some of the amazing off-road features of my new machine. I also mention that I’ve been traveling the country for a month and am only a few hundred miles from home, and soon we are both smiling and swapping stories. In the spirit of ADVrider I ask if I can have a picture. I’m getting bolder.





Just to confirm I ask if there’s anything wrong with me utilizing this apparent public space, and he concedes that no, there’s no harm in riding it (but he wonders aloud why one would even want to). Score! No need for license and registration, it’s just a friendly little chat between a public servant and a lone adventurer, the way it should be. Away I ride...

I’m faring better than this poor little deer.



I told myself that when it got dark I'd give up this foolishness and return to the 80 mph speed limit highway for the black night ride into town. There was, of course, one more hill I had to squeeze in, and it was the biggest one so far. It climbed several stories high and I found myself edging the man-made cliff watching the small looking 18-wheelers roar by beneath me. A pretty cool perspective! It kinda captures the essence of dual-sporting in a way, being just off the beaten path, being so close to society but distancing myself from it voluntarily and looking back down at it with a refreshed frame of mind. Mmmm, my spaceship, it takes me cool places!





I think I startled this trucker with my flash, I could see him straining his neck against the windshield. This “cliff” is pretty damn high, even though the pic doesn’t really show it. Do the math, how many stacked tractor trailers to reach my elevation?



Down is still scarier for me than up:



I'm too close to home to stop, even though I'm pretty tired, and where the hell would I camp out here anyway? After charging up with an energy drink and chatting with a curious truck driver (the Motorcycle Delay Factor in effect, this conversation was at least 20 minutes!) I plunge into the darkness for the final 150 miles to get to my bed. A sadness starts to move into my mind as if with the night. I've felt so alive and stimulated for weeks on end. Re-entry is gonna be rough.


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Old 12-03-2008, 12:54 PM   #130
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Quote:
Down is still scarier for me than up:
For some reason I have always been that way (4x4 or bike)
Guess we trust the mtr, trans more than we do the brakes.

When going up, vehicle in face and going down, clear blue yonder??

This has been great
thanks for sharing
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:42 AM   #131
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Not a bad “break in” for my bike and viola, eh? I started in California with 660 miles on the clock. And it looks like I need some gas...




Let’s have a look at this beast! I’ve been riding it non-stop since I bought it and I’m looking forward to learning about it inside and out. Plenty of bugs from the trip, that’s a good sign! Ironically most of the goo is from Texas close to home, the bike has stayed surprisingly clean all summer in the mountains. Dunno! I sure tried to get it dirty!



There are these big watery bugs that come out at dusk in west Texas and make a mess of everything. I have to tuck behind the windscreen with my eye line just above it to avoid a translucent impressionist rendering on the face shield. Yum!

The paint protector shapes I cut out look just about perfect!



Tires are about toast. I’m satisfied with them (Karoo front, 908rr rear) seeing as they’ve lasted nearly six thousand miles of mixed abuse, mostly highway. I’ll most likely be buying this combo again when I’m due for some off-roading, probably next summer when I get back to Colorado/Utah. It’s weird how every-other knob on the front-center is worn off, creating a “clump-clump-clump” sound as I slow to a stop.





Ah yes, the mark of excellence! It’s high time for my logo on the windscreen. *SMACK!*



I stole these words from somewhere, but I think it about sums up my situation after this trip:



I suppose it’s time to get back to my “real” life (yeah right!), enough of this bumfoolery!

The first order of business is to hit the practice room. I have three important auditions coming up that are all for-real, full-time jobs in beautiful places so I want to be in good shape. For nearly a week I’m torn as I wrestle with the decision of which viola I’m going to use. All three auditions are places I would want to be (which means that it would be a hell of a ride getting there with the carbon fiber!), so ultimately I choose the “traditional” mode of auditioning using my fine wooden viola and traveling via airplane. Boring. My reasoning is that if it comes down to a decision for me as a finalist I don’t want to give the committee ANY excuse to eliminate me, and the Black Death just might tip the scale against me... I did not come to this decision lightly. The three auditions are so close together that I knew I should play them all on the same instrument for consistency, since apparently it takes me a week or so to adjust to the subtleties of either one.

Since I don’t want to risk having my report booted to the basement I won’t go into great detail about my next month of adventures (since I didn’t ride there), but I’ll throw in a couple interesting pics.

Sculpture in Denver:



My buddy Joel with his ’77 AMF Sportster. He’s restoring it... Not sure why...



I got to hike two more 14ers before the winter season begins. I was wishing I had the Black Death with me for these pics in the snow, how cool would that be?!?



Practicing in my hotel (and surfing ADVrider, naturally!):



I dunno about you, but riding a motorcycle often makes me feel like this:



And interesting opportunity was offered to me (through networking, not these silly auditions!) while I was on my audition tour: A temporary principal viola position with the National Symphony of Colombia! I was thrilled with the possibility of living and working abroad, but negotiations fell through as they really couldn’t make it worth my while to drop everything and run. Too bad, I really wanted to do it, but it just didn’t make sense for me at the time.

My grand motorcycle/viola experiment IS having a positive effect on me in several ways, one being that I’m becoming bolder musically. While my life is being sucked out of me sitting in airports for hours on end I’ve often noted that nobody takes thinks twice of someone “working” on their laptop in the terminal, but if I were to bust out my viola to “work” (practice) to pass the time productively it would surely draw attention, probably not all of it good. Screw it! I’m taking BACK some of that time!

Practicing in baggage claim:



Pretty much everyone ignored me (or at least acted like it. Awkward!) except for one cleaning lady who’s son plays the viola. She actually knew it was a viola and not a violin! Cool. A security dude “checked” on me, but no problem. At first I was playing timid like I was doing something wrong, but after twenty minutes I was sawing away like normal, albeit with my heavy practice mute on to be a little considerate of the cave-like acoustics of the airport.

Don’t worry, I’ll be back on the bike wielding the carbon fiber instrument of destruction next post!

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Old 12-06-2008, 11:47 AM   #132
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viola-tor
Dont worry, Ill be back on the bike wielding the carbon fiber instrument of destruction next post!
I can't wait! Good luck with your auditions.
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Old 12-06-2008, 11:45 PM   #133
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Smart move leaving black death at home, I don't think the orchestral world is ready for it. Wait until you have secured the position, then right before your big solo, pull out black death and bring the house down.
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Old 12-07-2008, 04:06 AM   #134
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Great RR. Good luck with the auditions. BTW we now have a Coopers
in New Braunfels.
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Old 12-07-2008, 05:36 AM   #135
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Nice report. Thank you for sharing.
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